A three-storey building with basement was built on Hollého Street by a Žilina company owned by Ing. Vojtech Fridner as an old people’s home, according to designs by Ing. arch. Michal Maximilián Scheer from 1935. The building was commissioned by the Jewish Women's Association in Žilina. At that time, Irma Voglová was the chairwoman. She was the wife of the General Director of the "Žilina cloth factory" (later, Slovena). It took less than a year to build and was completed in 1936. The association’s mission was to provide charity, particularly to poor Jewish people, widows, orphans and the elderly.
The fact that the 8.8 m high irregularly shaped building, 15.4 x 16.8 m, was designed for the elderly was evident in the large dining room, kitchen and four bedrooms situated on the ground floor. Upstairs there were four bedrooms, a bathroom and a toilet. Facing the courtyard there was an open terrace. In the upper basement there was a boiler room, drying room and laundry.
In 1940 the building was taken over by "The Jewish centre, Žilina district branch", established in September 1940. At that time, the property of all previous Jewish associations and organizations was owned by The Jewish centre headquarters, and membership was compulsory for all Jews living in Slovakia. It was the only organization which represented and coordinated all Jewish matters. In November 1940 the branch established a public kitchen that handed out hot meals to the unemployed.
In 1944, the first refugees from Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler, hid in this old people’s home. There they wrote an extensive report on what had happened to the Jews in Auschwitz in 1942 to1944. The report was completed on 27 April 1944. It was translated into German and distributed around the world. It provided information about the mass murders in the concentration camps. After 1945 the building was used to accommodate returnees from the camps. Today the Jewish religious community of Žilina is based here.
Source: Peter Štanský and Milan Novák
It can be visited
■ exterior during a guided tour of TIO Žilina.
Position of the monument on the map: B3